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2009's Extreme Poaching Cases





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Posted by DFG on February 16, 2010 at 18:18:13:

California Department of Fish and Game News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 11, 2010

Contact:
Warden Patrick Foy, (916) 651-2084
DFG Communications, (916) 322-8911

A Look Back on 2009's Extreme Poaching Cases and Dangerous Encounters

For California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) wardens, 2009 was a busy year of investigating and cracking down on poaching-for-profit cases. Many involved repeat poaching offenders who were apparently undeterred by prior convictions and the related sentences.

Other dangerous law enforcement encounters involved high-speed chases, physical restraint of dangerous suspects and apprehension of a murder suspect.

"Fish and Game wardens do much more than check fishing licenses they put their lives at risk every day to protect California's citizens and natural resources," said Nancy Foley, Chief of DFG's Law Enforcement Division. "Our game wardens are expertly trained to investigate complex wildlife crimes, arrest suspects and ultimately protect the resources that belong to all Californians. Although the vast majority of California's hunters and anglers are law-abiding and respectful of our resources, these repeat poachers and other criminals pose a constant challenge to our investigators."

From deer poachers in the Sierra foothills to repeat offenders who poach endangered black abalone to sell for profit, 2009 included many difficult cases that required wardens to confront suspects with little or no backup. Some of the more dangerous cases included the following:

  • Binh Chau, age 35, of San Diego was arrested for the fifth time in less than three years for poaching lobsters in the La Jolla Conservation Area. Chau gained notoriety after his second lobster poaching arrest, when he was found to be hiding six lobsters in his pants. Chau has been on DFG's list of most egregious poachers since his fourth arrest in 2008.
  • A Sacramento deer poaching ring was exposed after poachers were observed killing deer in the Sierra foothills and then arrested in the act of selling the meat. Deer DNA analysis by DFG's Wildlife Forensics Laboratory identified 28 individual deer recovered at one suspects residence.
  • A Lassen County poacher shot five antelope from Road A25 near Herlong. Two females were pregnant with a total of three fetuses, effectively removing eight antelope from the local population. The poacher left some of them behind to suffer and die, making no effort to retrieve the animals. The case remains unsolved.
  • Over the last few years, five separate groups of Monterey County poachers have taken hundreds of black abalone, many of which were later offered for illegal sale. Shortly after Monterey County black abalone were federally listed as a endangered species in February 2009, wardens arrested Jerry Jones, 37, of Monterey, and Terry Callahan, 47, of Seaside on charges of illegally possessing 51 black abalone.
Other high-risk cases included the apprehension of a murder suspect by Fish and Game wardens, several standoffs at gunpoint and numerous high-speed chases, one of which ended in a fiery crash of the suspect vehicle. During another pursuit, the passenger in the suspect vehicle was observed throwing poached abalone out the window along several miles of Highway 1.

In the fall of 2009, Fish and Game added 15 wardens from the 2009 Warden Academy to the field. The 2010 Warden Academy is currently under way with 42 new warden cadets. If successful, they will enter a three-month field training program in September 2010.



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